six years ago i was living in cape town when i caught on fire & sustained second & third degree burns on my hands & feet. my blanket got caught in my space heater & i woke up in flames. the thing about crisis is it suspends time. i googled what to do when you are on fire. i crawled to the shower. i remembered to grab my keys & my wallet. i thought about my mother & god (in that order). i felt mundane things that were magnificent & magnificent things that were mundane. i did not cry until i called my mom to tell her: your child is flaming (!) i will never forget that day lying on the hospital bed at 21 years old, writhing in pain, but viscerally aware that i was alive & that that was enough. this was the winter i couldn’t dance because of the bandages on my feet (so i invited people over). this is the winter i couldn’t leave the house for work because of the bandages on my hands, so i stayed at home. & i needed somewhere to put the pain, so i wrote. every day i wrote. poems about the mountain, poems about my body, poems about yours, poems about love, poems about loss. this was the winter i could not bathe myself so i read my poems to my roommate after they sponged me. this was the winter i made friends out of strangers, along with the leftovers in the fridge. & right before i left i did one final reading. i said “this is who i am” & i read those poems to that small group in that small living room in observatory & the people that i needed they said, “you are an artist” & for the first time i believed it. & i haven’t stopped writing & the living room got bigger & now there are hundreds of thousands of strangers i cannot wait to make friends. this is the winter i learned that destruction is another form of creation — that loss creates the space for something else, the cycle, stubborn & unyielding of a forrest set ablaze only to bloom again. & so here i find myself back again six years later back in this strange city i grew to call a friend writing to you once again because i need somewhere to put the pain. i am so grateful to be alive: in other words, here is my art. come over at 5. i need you.
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